Oya Y. Rieger will present on “Structural Models and Emerging Priorities in Academic Health Sciences Libraries” at the Medical Library Association Conference. For additional information, please review abstract below. For more information on the session, please visit this website. 



Objectives: 1) Understanding the potential impact of mergers and other organizational changes on the academic health sciences library services, staff, and user communities.
2) Discussing the priority service areas of academic health science libraries, including research support, data management, bioinformatics, systematic reviews, assessment of research impact, and community outreach.
3) Considering community building and engagement requirements as libraries try to strike a balance between maintaining cohesiveness as a library system and being visible attending to the needs of specific user communities.

Methods: We initiated the study with a literature review and an analysis of organizational trends in order to understand how academic health sciences libraries are structured from the leadership, program, financial, IT, and HR perspectives in relation to the university libraries. Based on a semi-structured interview guide, we conducted interviews with 36 individuals (mainly academic health sciences library leaders) from 28 libraries. Most of the interviewees have been in the field for several years and many have held other positions in libraries with different organizational configurations so their remarks were informed by their overall experiences, and were not limited to their current role.

Results: Regardless of organizational configuration, there is tremendous pressure on academic health sciences libraries to do more with less–save money, be efficient, and keep up with emerging or expanding service areas such as research data and bioinformatics support. Whether the preference is for administrative affiliation with the main library or the academic side, the interviewees stressed the situated nature of the arrangement and factors such as the styles and attitudes of library leaders.

Conclusions: Academic health sciences libraries (AHSLs) are mission-driven organizations that thrive by aligning their programs and services with the new and emerging needs of the programs they serve. Their roles are expanding, particularly in the areas of research support, data management, bioinformatics, systematic reviews, assessment of research impact, and community outreach. Because AHSLs serve a myriad of campus constituents including health care service providers, the directors interviewed made a case for having sufficient autonomy to harmonize services and procedures based on their user communities. It is important to establish and maintain close ties with diverse user communities in order to be effective, responsive, and visible.